Friday, May 14, 2021

Making Resin Electric Eel Wheel Nano Bobbins - Part Two

Last year I shared how I made resin bobbin ends for my Electric Eel Wheel Nano.  

Well, this post has been quite a while in the making as I hit upon a complication.  I wanted to make a set of 6 Nano bobbins for myself, but after successfully making two, I started to have problems with the Perspex tubing that I was using for the centre of the bobbins.  For some reason, the inner diameter was inconsistent along the length, and, while I could get two well-fitting bobbin tubes from one end of a metre of Perspex, the remaining length of the Perspex tube was too narrow to fit on the Nano flyer shaft.

I do love the look of the clear Perspex tubes, but I’ve always been conscious that it made the bobbins slightly noisier than the original plastic bobbins that came with the Nano and so this was an opportunity for me to search out an alternative tubing material that would be quieter than Perspex.

I decided to give carbon fibre tubing a go.  My husband is a keen cyclist and so I’m familiar with its reputation as a strong, lightweight material, but I also suspected that it would prove to be quieter than the Perspex.

I bought 1 metre of carbon fibre tubing on eBay: it had an inner diameter of 10mm and an outer diameter of 12mm.  Unfortunately the carbon fibre tubing I sourced had a thinner wall than the original Perspex and so if I was to use the resin bobbin ends that I had already made, I was going to have to somehow work out how to make the holes smaller to fit the outer dimension of the carbon fibre tubing.  The solution I arrived at was to coat one end of the carbon fibre tube in Vaseline and then hold it in the middle of the hole, while pouring a tiny bit of UV resin into the empty space around the carbon fibre tube.

I’m not a big fan of using UV resin in a finished item. I don’t find it as strong, or as crystal clear as epoxy resin, but UV resin is great if you want to quickly attach something to hold it in place before it is later surrounded by epoxy resin.

Here’s the bobbin end after the UV resin has cured for 90 seconds under my UV lamp.  The Vaseline did an excellent job of preventing the resin from sticking to the tube.

Materials and Tools Used to Make my Resin Nano Bobbins 

I used a digital caliper to measure and mark off 9cm on the carbon fibre tubing.  The bobbins are less than 9cm long, but I always find it easier to file it down to the exact length, rather than cutting it perfectly the first time.

I’m using a Flex-shaft attached to my Dremel to cut the tubing with a Dremel SC456 Cutting Wheel. Without the narrower Flex-shaft, I just wouldn’t be able to get into the spot I need to cut.

Thankfully, the carbon fibre cuts so much more easily than the Perspex!  Cutting the Perspex tubing was the main thing I dreaded about making my earlier bobbins, so at this point, I was very happy that I’d been forced to source an alternative material.

They're pretty untidy at this stage...

... so I sanded the ends down with the Flex-shaft clamped into my vice, with a small sanding disc attachment this time.

I kept sanding and measuring until the carbon fibre tube was about the same length as the Nano bobbins.  (I actually prefer my bobbins a fraction of a millimetre shorter so that there’s room to add a loop of thin yarn or felt washer to the flyer rod, on either end, to quieten down the bobbin.)

I then rounded the ends with a grinding stone to remove any rough edges.

Here are my carbon fibre tubes all cut to size.

Now it's time to attach my bobbin ends to the carbon fibre tubing.

I used a trick popular with clay modelers.  I wanted the tube to protrude just a little from the flat end of the bobbin, so I propped either side of the bobbin end up on two playing cards, while I glued the rod and bobbin end together with UV resin.

The tube needs to protrude out much further on the grooved end, so this time I raised the bobbin end up on a stack of 9 playing cards, while I glued it in place with UV resin.

At this point, the bobbin end and tube were sufficiently attached for me to drop a little resin into the groove between the tube and bobbin ends to attach them much more permanently.  I also added some resin on the inside where the end of the bobbin met the tube.  As the Resin8 Dome-It resin I was using takes 12 hours to cure, I waited a day to turn over the bobbins and repeat adding resin to the inside and outside top surface joins for extra security.

...and here they are, all finished and ready to go for their first spin.  I absolutely love them!

This is my Sparkling Sky bobbin next to an original Nano bobbin for comparison.  I just love how transparent the top resin is, contrasting with shimmering mica flakes and alcohol inks on the bottom.

The main inspiration for my 'Sparkling Sky' bobbin was the Blending a Spectrum project I've been working on for a while now.  

I caught a glimpse of an accidental rainbow on one of my earlier resin bobbins and I couldn't resist making an intentional sky to complement a beautiful yarny rainbow.

Here are 24 colours of blended singles, spun carefully so that each colour takes up one full layer of the bobbin.  Gosh, I absolutely love it and it's exactly how I imagined it would be!

It's been so much work, but my rainbow bobbins are really bringing me joy at the moment!  We're in the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic and it feels like this spectrum project has helped me keep my hands and mind occupied, when we've all needed something like this to keep our spirits up.

Here are the rainbow singles chain-plied.  The resin petri dish effect bobbin turned out pretty well too.

I must confess to taking way too much time, stopping and starting the Nano as I had to move the hook every few seconds to make sure that I got a full layer of colour all along the bobbin for this one photograph - but it was worth it!


Reducing the volume 

When I first started spinning on my new resin bobbins, they were quite a bit noisier than the original plastic Nano bobbins.  This was because the inner diameter of the carbon fibre tube was ever so slightly bigger than the Nano bobbin tube.

I solved the slight rattle by adding three layers of washi tape to either end of the bobbin flyer and now my bobbins average out at just 1 decibel louder than the original Nano bobbins.


Bobbin Capacity

One of my main motivations for making my own resin Nano bobbins was to try to increase the capacity.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the original Nano bobbins have an outer tube diameter that is quite a bit wider than the tube ends that sit on the flyer.  Also, both ends have a groove (which shortens the capacity) when only one groove is necessary.

In my next post, I’ll be explaining exactly why Maurice was right to have a bobbin tube that is, at first glance, thicker than appears to be necessary  …

Of course, I really couldn't resist doing the maths to work out just how much more capacity I'd added to my Nano bobbins.

It's impossible to measure bobbin capacity by yarn weight as it will vary depending on fibre type, tension, thickness, fibre preparation, density, and how efficiently you fill a bobbin.  Some days I manage to get over 70g on an original Nano bobbin, but the consensus seems to be that the average weight of yarn on a Nano bobbin is around 50g.

If I measure bobbin capacity by the cylindrical area inside the bobbin ends, minus the area of the central tube, my resin bobbins have a 13% greater capacity than the Nano ones.  That's not bad considering that my resin bobbin ends are significantly thicker than the Nano ones.  I'm very pleased with that!

Despite all of that, I still wanted to do a proper weight capacity test!

To start off with, I filled my resin bobbin a sensible amount - just inside the bobbin ends.  I always spin fine on my Nano - it likes to spin fine, and it means I get a lot more on there.  This weight, when chain plied, will give me a sock weight yarn.

As you can see, I managed to get a little over 77g on there.  That's more than I've ever managed to get on a regular Nano bobbin and I didn't need to go outside the bobbin end area.

Out of curiosity, I challenged myself to see the absolute maximum amount I could fit on my resin bobbins.  After all, I regularly manage to get over 70g on my original Nano bobbins, but that is also filling it to the max.

As you can see, if I fill the bobbin, as much as the Nano flyer arms can accommodate (without risking the yarn slipping over the bobbin end, I can get over 100g on there. I’m so pleased, as that means I can now get at least enough yarn on there for a pair of socks!

Here is 77g of chain-plied, sock-weight yarn…

… and here is 104g of chain plied sock weight yarn.  Sadly I don't own an Electric Eel Wheel 6.0 so this was chain plied on my Hansen.  (The irony of that statement is not lost on me, especially when I consider the review I wrote of the Electric Eel Wheel 4 back in 2015...)

In my next blog post, I'll be explaining how I learned why the original Nano bobbins have the perfect bobbin tube diameter.

If you've enjoyed reading how I made my resin Nano bobbins, please consider pinning it to Pinterest - it really does make a big difference!

This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links to similar products that I purchased myself to make the Electric Eel Wheel Nano bobbins.  If you click through and purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you.

At this point, I normally suggest similar related blog posts, however, my list of spinning-related content is becoming a little unmanageable...  If you'd like to read more blog posts about spinning and fibre preparation, please take a look at this page here where you will find links to all of my spinning and fibre articles.  

Thank you for reading, and happy spinning! 

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